Election Meditations 2020

Election Meditations 2020 November 3, 2020

My co-author Jim Haught has penned his thoughts on tomorrow’s election, and I’d like to do the same.

This is the day we’ve been anticipating and dreading. If we win, we’ll end the nightmare of the last four years and start America on the long and difficult road to redemption. The other possibility is an orgy of corruption and cruelty far worse than what we’ve already witnessed. When I contemplate those possibilities, I feel hope and fear balanced in almost perfect equilibrium, and I’m sure many of you feel the same. Very soon, we’ll find out which one is going to become reality.

In the meantime, here’s my advice for Election Day:

Don’t panic, don’t despair. Many of us, including me, were badly burned by 2016, and that hopeful expectation made the reality far more painful. But it’s vital not to let this trauma make us despondent or believe that another loss is foreordained. The polls are very much on our side. And yes, people said that in 2016 as well, but Joe Biden’s lead is larger and more durable than Hillary Clinton’s ever was, both nationally and in a majority of critical swing states. I want to believe that progressives who were complacent last time are fired up and furious and won’t make that mistake again. If the polls mean anything at all, this could be a blue landslide.

Of course, the fascist party and its wannabe autocrat leader will do everything they can to cheat, disenfranchise voters and steal the election, and there’s no guarantee they won’t succeed. But that’s no reason to give up prematurely. We have to be vigilant and ready to act, but the probabilities are on our side, and there’s every reason to believe that this is winnable.

Don’t watch TV on election night. Seriously, don’t do it. Obsessively refreshing news sites or following every prognosticating pundit and every minor development doesn’t help anything. It will only magnify your anxiety without doing anything to affect the result. On Tuesday night, I intend to shut the TV off, log off Twitter and do everything I can to relax and get a good night’s sleep. On that note:

Do make plans for self-care. Instead of spending your time glued to the TV or to social media, do something calming or productive. Read a book (hey, like mine!), watch a favorite movie, take a bath, play video games, exercise, meditate, have sex, do some cleaning or tackle a chore you’ve been putting off – whatever helps you to relax. We’ve all been through a lot; be kind to yourself.

Don’t expect an official result right away, especially not on Tuesday night. Unless there’s a landslide (which is possible!), it’s likely that it will take several days to definitively declare a winner, as mail-in ballots are received and counted. On the same note, be prepared that Trump will appear to be leading in some critical states at first and will then fall behind as all the ballots are tallied. Expect this as a real possibility and don’t freak out if it happens.

• On the same note, do expect Trump to claim victory at the earliest opportunity, regardless of what the vote count is. Lies are his food and drink and the air he breathes. If he’s ever told the truth, it was only by accident. Don’t listen to him and don’t treat his words as anything more than ugly noise.

• I’m sorry I have to say this, but be prepared for outbreaks of violence. I’m fully expecting that some Trump cultists, win or lose, will commit random acts of thuggery against people they believe to be Democrats. Especially if you live in a gun-fondling conservative area, make a plan for how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe – even if it’s just locking your doors and turning off your lights. Don’t count on the police to be of any help.

Do give yourself permission to hope. I’m well aware that hope has felt like an unaffordable luxury these past four years. I’ve felt like a miser, hoarding mine and carefully rationing it out.

But as hard as it can be, we have to hang on to hope. We have to believe that victory is possible, that the world can be changed for the better. That’s the only belief that can sustain us through dark days, the only belief that gives us the strength to endure and the courage to fight on. If we lose hope, we’ve lost everything. But hope is also the one thing our enemies can never take away from us, unless we ourselves choose to relinquish it.

• Last but certainly not least – if you haven’t already, vote! And if you know anyone who hasn’t, call them, text them, offer them a ride, get them to the polls!


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